Nashville's mayoral special election: who's running? - WSMV News 4

Nashville's mayoral special election: who's running?

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A surprise ruling came down from the Tennessee Supreme Court on Tuesday moving up Nashville's upcoming mayoral special election by more than two months. It has many Nashvillians wondering - who's running for the job? 

Thirteen candidates are on the ballot for the special election on May 24. The date was decided on Wednesday by the Davidson County Election Committee after the ruling came down from the state's high court. 

The commission initially ruled the election would coincide with the local general election on Aug. 2, 2018. But former Metro Councilmember and mayoral candidate Ludye Wallace filed a lawsuit saying the date went against the rules set forth in the Metro Charter. 

The state's highest court agreed and unanimously ruled that the election must take place between May 21-25, 2018 or 75 to 80 days after the post was vacated. 

It's a short turnaround for a growing city that just lost their widely-popular leader, Megan Barry, when she resigned as mayor on March 9 in order to avoid felony charges theft of Metro property, a crime committed while she had an affair with her former bodyguard, Sgt. Rob Forrest. 

Some of the names you'll quickly recognize, like the current Mayor David Briley, who was sworn in the same day Barry resigned, and other current and former local elected leaders like Councilwoman-at-Large Erica Gilmore and former Councilman Ludye Wallace. However, many of the candidates are newcomers or lesser known members of Nashville's political scene.

News4’s Briona Arradondo reached out to the 13 mayoral candidates to find out their top two platforms they are running on ahead of Election Day. Some responses were edited for clarity and brevity.

Here's what we dug up about each of them (candidates are listed in alphabetical order): 

Carlin J Alford

Carlin Alford (Courtesy: Middle Tennessee Storm)Alford is the Director of Customer Success and Strategy at the Nashville-based online software company BOLDplanning Inc. The company develops online systems related to emergency planning and other services. 

He is the head coach of the Middle Tennessee Storm, a minor league baseball team based in Nashville. Alford also serves as a school board member and the volunteer athletic director at F.H. Jenkins Preparatory School, a private K-8 school in North Nashville. 

Alford is a Nashville resident but is originally from Niles, Michigan. He has a bachelor of science in communications from Andrews University. 

Top Platforms: Metro Schools and Affordable Housing

“We need to fight for funding. We need to address the stability of the teaching staff, bring in more resources, and expand home services with social workers. We also can partner with non-
metro people for after school programs to help parents get higher education for a better workforce.”
 
“The zip codes 37208 and 37218, I have personal experience with seeing low-income properties there developed into high-dollar interest. We need to make sure families that are low income have options, and we need to have plans to mitigate that. We would like to look at cities that are doing well with affordable housing, so we don’t see more gentrification.”
 
You can learn more about Alford's campaign on his social media.

David Briley

Mayor David Briley (Credit: David Briley for Mayor)Currently serving as the eighth Mayor of Nashville in the interim between Megan Barry's resignation and the upcoming special election, David Briley is hoping to keep his current gig. And considering his current position, he's widely considered as a favorite for the job. 

So far as acting mayor, Briley has proposed a plan to demolish Greer Stadium turn it into a public park. He's also been a vocal supporter of his predecessor's transit plan, which is up for a citywide referendum vote on May 1, even signing the ceremonial "Declaration of Transportation Independence" alongside several other state and local officials. 

Before being sworn-in as active mayor on March 6, Briley served as vice mayor and a councilman-at-large. He ran for mayor for the first time in 2006 and was elected vice mayor in 2015. He was voted "Best Councilmember" by the Nashville Scene in 2001, 2002 and 2006.

As a councilman, Briley proposed a controversial measure in 2005 to provide free, citywide internet access. The resolution wasn't passed, but it led to the city's later decision to offer free, wireless internet in all Davidson County libraries and many public parks. In 2007, Metro Council passed a resolution Briley wrote requiring all government buildings to be built with LEED certifications. 

Briley was also a practicing lawyer at Bone McAllester Norton PLLC until he became mayor. He earned a bachelors degree at Georgetown University and studied administrative and environmental law at Golden Gate University. 

Briley is a native Nashvillian and grandson of Beverly Briley, the first-ever mayor of the combined Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. He attended Glendale Elementary, Lipscomb Middle School and graduated from Montgomery Bell Academy. He is married to Jodie Bell, a criminal defense attorney, and has a 14-year-old son named Sam.

Top Platforms: Education and Growth

“Funding for higher pay and support for teachers, universal Pre-K education, technology and other features that schools need to compete at the highest level (impact educational success). We have a short-term budget challenge that we will manage out of and then make the right investments in education. The second thing I can do is to corral the broader community, including businesses and nonprofits, to expand collaboration that brings more positive force to public education.

“(Managing our growth) is multifaceted because this priority includes our challenges on issues of affordability, roadway congestion, public safety, preserving our neighborhoods, and making certain that more residents participate in Nashville’s prosperity. There is no single silver-bullet policy for any one of those issues, but rather work of a strategic nature that will require the focus of my administration. It will involve how we prioritize and budget, and how our city departments execute for the people we serve.”

Find more information about Briley's campaign.

Ralph Bristol

"I’m running for mayor because our city has lost its way, and is currently serving the few at the expense of the many," Ralph Bristol wrote on his conservative blog Right Corner Pocket.

When Bristol announced his candidacy, he cited his position against the transit referendum as his main reason for entering the race. 

He also promises to run an "open government," as opposed to Megan Barry, who he says "dodged interviews with hostile media," and will conduct most of his business as mayor "in an open office, with media access, including most phone calls."

Bristol is retired but worked in radio and TV broadcasting for over 30 years. He is most known for hosting the conservative radio show "Nashville's Morning News" on Cumulus Media's Supertalk 99.7 WTN. Bristol was terminated from his position at Cumulus due to what he called, "irreconcilable editorial differences" in Jan. of 2018.

Bristol is a U.S. Air Force Veteran. He served as the past president of the Donelson-Hermitage TN Rotary Club and the fundraising chairman for Music City Honor Flight, a program took more than 600 WWII veterans in Middle Tennessee on a free trip to Washington D.C. to see the WWII Memorial.  

He is married to Marianna Bristol, who also hosts a talk-radio show. Bristol originally from Valentine, Nebraska.

Top Platforms: Progress and Open Government

“Make progress without more spending.  Too many people equate progress to more spending, but that model has failed repeatedly, and Nashville cannot afford more debt or higher taxes. We will not, while I'm mayor, offer any more subsidies, land, tax abatement or cash payments to corporations as incentives to move to Nashville, or a different part of Nashville. We will offer no further subsidies to developers, owners or renters.”

“That means all stakeholders - not just those with special access - will have an influential voice in all important decisions.  We will find unique, inexpensive solutions and progress with only one rule.  We work with the revenue we have and raise no taxes for (at least) the five years I plan to be mayor.”

You can find more information about Bristol on his Facebook page.

Jeff Obafemi Carr

Jeff Carr (Credit: Jeff Carr via Twitter)Jeff Carr is a has been an outspoken community activist in Nashville for decades. He's also an actor, writer, jazz singer and former journalist. 

Carr currently works for the political action committee, NoTax4 Tracks, fighting Nashville's proposed transit referendum. He represented the group in a town hall-style debate against Transit for Nashville hosted by News4 and The Tennessean

In his online biography, Carr says he "could easily have become a statistic" until getting into trouble landed him in a local juvenile detention facility as a teen. He decided to turn his life around; he graduated high school and then went on to study theater and communications at Tennessee State University. He was president of the Student Government Association as a senior, as well as lead hundreds of students in a now-famous sit-in that shut down the campus in 1990. The protest led the state to provide $140 million for necessary renovations to the campus. 

After graduating from TSU, he spent 11 years self-publishing "The Third Eye," a monthly newspaper in Nashville. He also hosted a community talk show on WVOL, the local station that gave Oprah her start in broadcast media. 

Carr has performed in dozens of local theater productions and co-starred in the feature film "The Second Chance" with Michael W. Smith. He has also written 3 professionally-produced plays, including the children’s choreo-poem, "Before The People Came" and his one-man, seven-character play, "How Blak Kin Eye Bee?" which he performed at the Ryman Auditorium. He wrote the book "Black Stuff: Poetry and Essays on the Afrikan-American Experience" and essays published in Essence, The Black World Today and The Tennessee Tribune. Carr is also a licensed minister. He is divorced and has one daughter. 

News4 attempted to reach Jeff Obafemi Carr for comment about his top platforms but did not receive a response. You may find out more about Carr on his Facebook page.

Julia Clark-Johnson

Julia Clark-JohnsonAccording to her campaign website, Julia Clark-Johnson is an "experienced" public servant "dedicated to building a successful community in the growing population of Nashville."

Clark-Johnson was a teacher for over 20 years in St. Louis County, Missouri. She also is a trained professional driver "familiar with [the] department of transportation policies, homeland security, and passport regulations." 

Her biography also says she served eight terms as a public servant, but it doesn't say where she served or the position she held. She was born in Waynesville, Missouri and is the daughter of two veterans, who were stationed in Stuttgart, Germany when she was a child.

Top Two Platforms: Civic Engagement and Affordable Housing

"My first concern for Nashville is educating Davidson County residents on the importance of registering to vote and exercising their right to vote in every election. You can be a part of any political office you choose in government regardless of your level of education. Increasing voter awareness informs voters of the responsibilities and duty of authority for the public servants. Learning and understanding who to call regarding issues gives power to the First Amendment."

"(I'm concerned with) making sure the constituents understand the mayor’s role and that he/she is only one vote on the district council seat. Promises can be made and most often are when candidates are seeking the mayoral seat. However, issues of concern such as Section 8, low-income, subsidize housing and etc. are the duties of MNHD."

You may find out more about Clark-Johnson on her website.

Erica Gilmore

Erica Gilmore (Credit: City of Nashville)Councilwoman-at-Large Erica Gilmore has served on Metro Council since 2007. She is chair of the Council's Health, Hospitals and Social Services Committee and former president of the Minority Caucus. She was also elected Speaker Pro Tempore by the Council for one term.

She served as a broad member of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials where she helped institute initiatives executed by black officials serving in local governments across the country.

Gilmore is the Assistant Dean of Student Conduct at TSU and an adjunct professor at Fisk University and Nashville State Community College. She also taught in Metro Schools for five years. 

She is the daughter of State Rep. Brenda Gilmore, who represents the 54th District of Tennessee, and served on Nashville's Metro Council for 10 years. 

Gilmore graduated from Whites Creek High School. She received a B.A. in English from Howard University, an M.A. in English at degree at TSU and studied local and state government at Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She has one daughter.

You can find out more about Erica Gilmore on her website

Albert Hacker

Regional sales representative for medical supplies company LeMaitre Vascular and former starting center for the Lipscomb University Bisons, Albert Hacker is one of the youngest candidates running for mayor. 

Hacker graduated from Lipscomb University with a B.A. in business management in 2004. He played professional basketball in Europe before working in sales. He is also a longtime volunteer at the Nashville Rescue Mission. 

Top Platforms: Government Transparency and Community Unity

"Through working with the Comptroller's Office and city council, I will discover and call out waste to reduce and eliminate unnecessary and/or overfunded projects to supplement programs, salaries, and projects that need more funding.  It is baffling that we are taking the fact that our government demands more money from taxpayers as solutions."

"No candidate will be able to change the system that is gravitating more towards divisive, partisan rhetoric to propagate a system that serves itself instead of the community. (My platform) the Nashville Better initiative will improve family structure, parenting skills, and create a provider versus survivor mentality. We will also use state funds to expand the Youth Life Learning Center Program, among other nonprofits. (Other initiatives will) build a stronger youth to reduce juvenile crime [and] will unite PTO's in Metro Public Schools to create transparency and a unified Metro school system."

Find more information on his campaign on Hacker's website.

David L. Hiland

David Hiland is a U.S. Army Veteran and award-winning barber at Forty Ten Barber Studio in Green Hills, who says "servicing and listening to the people of Nashville is a must." 

“A lot of long-term residents are worried about the future of Nashville as well as the people running it. I will stand for the people of Nashville and not stand on them,” Hiland says on his campaign website. 

Hiland is a native Nashvillian. He graduated from Stratford High School in 1993. His campaign platform includes advocating for the city's youth and homeless populations, lowering violent crime rates and increasing the availability of affordable housing. 

 “It’s great to have Nashville be recognized as an “IT” city," Hiland says, "but I’m not for selling the soul of Nashville."

Top Platforms: Morality and Opioid Epidemic

“I hope to bring morale and trust to back to our great city of Nashville. (I will work on) empowering the youth and future leaders with programs catered towards everyday life. (I will work on) reinforcing our public school system and backing our teachers and public safety wholeheartedly with whatever means necessary.”

“The opioid problem in Nashville has created horrific terror in families. This is a problem that has to be handled immediately. The result of the epidemic spreading will be treacherous with no boundaries. I will stand for a greater cause than those before me.”

You may find more information about Hiland’s campaign on his website.

Rep. Harold M. Love Jr.

Harold Love Jr. (Courtesy: TN General Assembly)Harold Love is the Democratic representative for the 58th District of Tennessee and the pastor of Lee Chapel A.M.E Church. 

He serves as the House Democratic Caucus Secretary and chaplain of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. 

His father, Harold Love Sr., served as Metro Council for 8 years and then went on to represent the state's District 54 for 36 years. 

Love earned a B.A. in economics and finance from TSU, an M.A. in theology from Vanderbilt University and a Ph.D. in public policy and administration from TSU.

Top Platforms: Education and Neighborhood Safety

“We have to do a better job preparing students for college if that is the path they choose after high school. Only 24% of MNPS Students that enroll in college are graduating.”

“We need to create an environment where our children can play and be safe in addition to our senior citizens being able to live without fear. Much of it starts with investing dollars into after-school programs and improving infrastructure in communities that have been neglected.”

For more information about Love’s campaign, visit his website.

Jeffery A. Napier

Jeff Napier (Courtesy: Jeff Napier for Mayor via Facebook)Jeff Napier bills himself as a "true Nashville native looking to bring common sense back to our city government and stop the outrageous spending by previous mayors."

Napier identifies himself as a conservative, Republican candidate. He's semi-retired now but worked as a heavy truck and fire engine mechanic for Metro Nashville for 10 years. He also worked as a limousine driver for five years. 

"After seeing his parents aging and on a fixed income from retirement, realizing that if the current trends in [the] cost of living and rapidly increasing tax rates are not brought under control soon, his parent's retirement will be gobbled up by taxes," Napier says on his campaign Facebook page. He gained interest in running for mayor "in the last few years" because of the "outrageous spending" by the last three mayors. 

His main campaign promise is to reduce spending across the city, including his position against the transit plans. He also supports the revitalization of the Fairgrounds as it is now, but hopes to put in a theme park there in the future. He wants to hire more police officers and fire dept. works to fight the opioid epidemic, youth violence and school bullying. As a past Metro employee, Napier also wants to improve their benefits. 

Napier was born in Nashville and graduated from Stratford High School. He is a U.S. Army Veteran who served at Fort Hood and Fort Campbell.

Top Platforms: School Security and Government Spending

“We need better school security. Without it, (school) shootings will continue. Every time that we hear of a tax increase for this reason or that reason, school's needs are always in it. But when we hear of a $17 million shortfall, it's clearly obvious that the money has been spent where it shouldn't. If the schools had that $17 million back, a portion of that could go to a better security program/systems to prevent a possible shooter from getting in.”

“With the recent broken promise of the cost of living raise for the police dept, and employees metro-wide, I would look at the spending to get that back on track and get them the raises they were promised, need and deserve, with an emphasis on the police and fire departments getting the resources and equipment they need to do their jobs more effectively and safely.”

You can find more information on Napier’s social media.

Jon Sewell

Jon Sewell (Courtesy: IMDB)Sewell is an actor, carpenter and artist based in Nashville. He has appeared in many country music videos and currently plays "Ronnie" in CMT's Still the King starring Billy Ray Cyrus. He also owns The Packing Plant, an art gallery on Hagan Street in Wedgewood-Houston. 

Sewell is a Nashville native. He earned a B.A. in foreign languages, political science and philosophy from the University of Memphis and an M.A. from Vanderbilt University. He also spent several years as an apprentice for the Carpenters Union and eventually became a foreman.

Top Platforms: Public Health and Transportation

“(I will work to) expand the public health system through cost-savings from the criminal justice network: legalize weed, decriminalization of drugs, decriminalization of prostitution, housing the homeless. Move policy decisions for these issues into the public health environment instead of the court system. (We should) relieve the police from difficult discretion and have people talk to doctors and social workers about drug use, and other personal privacy issues, instead of stigmatizing proper care.

“(I will work to) provide new outlets for creative transportation problem-solving: more painters painting crosswalks, more traffic-calming sculptures in the 4-ways, shut down streets and make them into parks, increase the greenways network, provide more intermediate size buses and park-and-ride mass transit options at the city limit with direct access to hubs downtown. More inclusion requires more transparency in government as well as more accountability.  That means Metro departments should default to providing info instead of concealing it, and that starts with the top brass all the way down.“

You can learn more about Sewell's campaign on his website.

Dr. Carol M Swain

Dr. Carol M. SwainDr. Carol Swain is an award-winning political scientist, author, and former professor of law and political science at Vanderbilt University and Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.   

Dr. Swain's political commentaries and books have been published by CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, BBC, NPR, Fox News and more. Her first book, "Black Faces, Black Interests: The Representation of African Americans in Congress," won the Woodrow Wilson Prize for the best book published on U.S. government, politics and international affairs, and was cited in rulings by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Amtjpmu Lemmedu and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. 

Swain's conservative views expressed as a commentator on CNN, have sometimes garnered criticism from her former students. She was one of the first to call for Barry's resignation and opposes the transit referendum, instead of supporting an alternative plan for a regional transit system.

News4 attempted to reach Carol Swain for comment on her top platforms but did not receive a response. You may find out more about Swain on her website.

Ludye Wallace

Ludye Wallace (WSMV file photo)Former 19th District Metro Councilman and current head of the Nashville's NAACP chapter, Ludye Wallace, is who the city can credit for the change of the mayor special election date, announced Tuesday by the state supreme court. 

Wallace and the NAACP filed a lawsuit against the city after the Davidson Co. Election commission decided to hold the special election on the same day in August as the upcoming general election, which according to the court, went against the rules set forth in the Metro Charter. 

During his time with the NAACP, Wallace has spoken for the city's African-American community on many topics, including forming the Justice for Jocques Coalition, a group calling former Mayor Megan Barry to establish a community oversight board to monitor Metro Police and fight for more community policing training for officers after one shot and killed an unarmed black man, Jocques Clemmons at Cayce Homes on the afternoon of Feb. 17, 2017. 

Wallace served two terms on Metro Council. He has a B.S. in political science and government from TSU. He is originally from Bessemer, Alabama.

News4 contacted Ludye Wallace about his top campaign platforms, and he said he is not campaigning and not doing anything in the mayor’s race.

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